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Sad Artist Finds a Girl in the Self-Serious Billy Bates

Billy (James Wirt), the anguished painter writhing and moaning through Billy Bates, is what trailer-speak might call a "tortured artist" — a man for whom misery is a prerequisite for creation. He spends a lot of time, it seems, pottering around his stylishly bedraggled studio apartment, staring meaningfully into the middle distance, as one does, alternately brooding and sobbing; how and when he manages to get any work done is left to the imagination. The work itself is rather dire: black-and-white photographs scuffed up and luridly graffitied, about as edgy as a decal on the underside of a skateboard. Nevertheless, Billy's star is on the rise. Early in the film, he meets the ravishing Kaia (Savannah Welch), a folk singer, at a nightclub where his work is o...

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